MINOT AIR FORCE BASE Hundreds of new positions will be added at Minot Air Force Base in the next fiscal year, according to an Air Force report.
The announcement addresses the Air Force's force structure, realignment and management actions supported by the president's fiscal year 2010 budget, which begins Oct. 1. The report summarizes civilian and military personnel changes as well as the reassignment of aircraft at bases for the upcoming fiscal year.
Senators Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad and Rep. Earl Pomeroy said the report shows once again that the Air Force is committed to a significant expansion of Minot AFB's mission. The report was released Friday.
The report calls for the addition of several dozen military and civilian personnel at the Minot base as a result of bolstering the Air Force's nuclear enterprise.
As a result of strengthening the Air Force's nuclear enterprise, the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB gains 10 B-52H bombers as part of B-52 force structure, according to the report.
In addition, the establishment of the new B-52 squadron at the Minot base will bring another 453 military personnel to the base in the coming fiscal year alone. The establishment of this second B-52 squadron at Minot AFB is pending an environmental assessment and final decision.
U.S. launches test missile
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. Vandenberg Air Force Base officials launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration test assembly from North Vandenberg Monday. The missile was pulled from the Minot AFB missile field.
The launch was an operational test to verify the weapon system's reliability and accuracy, according to Air Force officials.
The missile carried three unarmed re-entry vehicles about 4,190 miles at speeds in excess of 24,000 mph to their predetermined targets near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
Throughout the preparation and execution of the mission, maintenance and operations task force personnel from the 91st Missile Wing out of Minot AFB integrated with the 576th Flight Test Squadron to perform operational tasks. Members of the 576th Flight Test Squadron installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile to collect data and meet 30th Space Wing safety requirements.
The data collected will be used by the entire ICBM community, including the U.S. Strategic Command planners and Department of Energy laboratories.
Current Air Force plans indicate there will be a total increase of about 900 personnel associated with the additional B-52 squadron when the squadron is finished being established.
"This report shows the Air Force is committed to expanding Minot Air Force Base's role in maintaining our nation's nuclear force," the delegation said in a joint statement Monday. "The base will see roughly 1,000 positions added in the next few years. That's good news for the base and the community, and we'll continue working closely with the Air Force to ensure it has all the resources it needs to carry out their missions."
Minot is home to the 5th Bomb Wing's B-52H Stratofortress bombers and the 91st Missile Wing's fleet of 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is the only dual nuclear mission base.
Earlier this month, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and North Dakota's congressional delegation announced that the Air Force will locate a new nuclear weapons munitions maintenance unit at Minot AFB
Minot was one of five potential bases surveyed by the Air Force for the location of the headquarters of the 798th Munitions Maintenance Group. The 798th, consisting of a command element and support staff of about 10 to 12 people, is expected to be officially established this summer. Once complete, the unit will assume command of the 17th Munitions Squadron at Minot AFB, and also munitions squadrons at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., Vandenberg AFB, Calif., and Malmstrom AFB, Mont. The activation and assumption of command for these squadrons will take place later this year.
The newly released force structure announcement also shows increases at other North Dakota bases as well as Minot AFB.
Grand Forks AFB is scheduled to receive its first RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft system during the next fiscal year. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security operates MQ-1B Predator aircraft at the base.
The 119th Wing at Hector International Airport in Fargo will have an increase of 13 civilian technician positions, according to the report.
Missile wing passes inspections
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE The 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base received an overall grade of satisfactory, the highest possible, during its recent Nuclear Surety Inspection, according to base officials. That means the wing remains certified to perform its strategic mission.
The wing also received an overall grade of satisfactory on its Operational Readiness Inspection, which was conducted at the same time.
The missile wing's Nuclear Surety Inspection was conducted for two weeks this month. Inspectors announced the results of the wing's inspection Saturday.
The inspection evaluates a unit's readiness to execute nuclear operations and takes place at least every 18 months. The inspection of the missile wing was conducted by a Headquarters Air Force Space Command Inspector General team, with oversight by representatives from the Air Force Inspection Agency and United States Strategic Command.
In May, the 5th Bomb Wing received a satisfactory rating for its first no-notice Nuclear Surety Inspection. Previous inspections included giving advance notice of the wing's inspections. A satisfactory rating for the bomb wing also means it remains certified to perform its strategic mission.
The missile wing, led by Col. Chris Ayers, maintains and operates a fleet of 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles located in north-central and northwest North Dakota.
The bomb wing, led by Col. Joel Westa, has the B-52H Stratofortress.